The alleged rape of an Uber passenger by her driver in New Delhi on Friday and his arrest over the weekend is another sad chapter in India’s ongoing battle with violence against women. While official statistics suggest the country witnessed 25,000 rapes in 2012, survey evidence suggests numbers perhaps 10 times as high.
The government’s response to the incident was to immediately ban Uber operations in Delhi. Alhough this might offer a welcome sign of political commitment to tackle violence, it doesn’t make sense. The police in India have been accused of multiple rapes, and tourists have been raped on a train and in a traditional Delhi taxi this year; the government has not shut down the police force, the railways, and traditional taxi services. It has singled out Uber, perhaps more because it is a high-profile, politically weak service than because of any risks riders may face.